posted on 7/2012 By:
Necrovation's debut full-length dropped in 2008 amidst a near metric-ton of other bands re-re-re-treading the old tenets of Merciless/Nihilist/[ye olde Swedish death metal band of yore]. But Breed Deadness Blood managed to pierce through the stacks of impersonators to secure itself as one of the few 'modern primitive' death metal albums truly befitting of its A-class progenitors. The record was/is beautifully raw, murky, cruel and heavy, but with a modicum of refinement splitting through the black in the form of sparse, surprisingly melodic lead-play; an ideal candidate for recommendation to folks interested in throw-back Swedish death metal done in a decidedly appealing manner.
But damn, four years between albums is a long stretch, and the relatively limited 7.5 minute, 7"-only format of 2010's Gloria Mortus didn't exactly glut fans' craving for new material, myself included. Suffice to say, I was very excited when I caught wind of a sophomore effort. But I'd also be lying if I didn't admit that I was nervous about the early reports indicating the new material was "headed in a different direction." Hey, I like innovation as much as the next guy, but seemingly countless lessons from other bands in the past pointed a fair probability that "new direction" might equal "a safer, PG-13 version" of Necrovation. And you know what? Album #2 has buffed out a fair measure of the filthy rawness that helped to deliver Breed Deadness Blood's killing blow. But whatever tinge of roughness that's cut here is more than made up for by the fact that they've added about 50 layers to the overall Necrovation onion.
Anyway, there I stood, like a squinch-eyed desperado with one hand hovering over my Colt .44, ready for Necrovation to make a bullshit move. But the itch in my trigger finger all but disappeared as each song lifted from my speakers. Yeah, the material sounds a lot less "Gorement/The Ending Quest" than I'd initially hoped, but the progression achieved is completely engrossing. There's still a Swedish death metal nucleus, but its greatly enhanced by loads of bizarre, knotted branches shooting off into any number of directions, throughout any particular song. A sort of 'perfect chaos' that's performed with deft precision that manages to fold in seemingly random and even ill-fitting ideas into an overall formula that crushes once it's all sewn together.
"Dark Lead Dead": Let's see, we just spent the first 3:24 hammering faces with riffs, how about a quick measure that sounds sorta like Three Blind Mice quietly traipsing through a cabinet?
Yeah, that kind of weirdness. Wacky patterns, tempo and mood-shifts on a dime, rapid drumming thrown over slogging riffs, and any number of other decidedly non-death metal challenges to the crux of what the band produced prior to this record. In a word: Adventurous. In three words: Adventurous as balls. But what's perhaps most impressive is the fact that Necrovation commands this progression without abusing gimmickry. Apart from a minute's worth of perfectly blended orchestration tacked to the end of the aptly named "The Transition," there are no excessive bells and whistles deployed. No surprise glow stick-twirling techno beats. No fiddles, nyckelharpas or säckpipas. Just innovation through a calculated assault on what's expected, and that's a beautiful thing.
And speaking of beauty, that gets plenty of fair play here, as well. The bursts of melody that peppered Breed Deadness Blood are more prominent throughout Necrovation. The entirety of the aforementioned "The Transition" is beautiful. And hell, the lead nuzzled within the heart of "New Depths" is one of the prettiest I've heard this year. But it's all about symmetry, or a lack thereof, to be more precise. Prettiness will abruptly cut to a measure that flails like a badger caught in a trap. And the churlish "David Vincent of old" howls that dominate the vocals ensure that any semblance of equilibrium recognized during a 20-second repose is destined to get knocked right on its ass.
There are just so many layers to peel here for a prospective death metal fan who's ready to give the album some proper time. My only complaint would be the relatively quiet way the record ends; I've never been a big fan of the album fade-out. If you've just spent 45 minutes doing a great job of pulling me in, you should finish me off with a proper kill-shot. It's a minor quibble, however, and it certainly doesn't detract from the overall triumph of the album.
Despite all the positives I've mentioned above, I'd have to concede that my favorite selling point with regard to this record has to do with its potential. The level of progression between Breed Deadness Blood and this -- well, the story nearly writes itself. We'll likely see a progressively more legible moniker, increasingly odd cover artwork, and further forays into unconventional song structures and overall themes. But based on how shrewdly the band managed the shift to Necrovation, there's plenty reason to get excited about what these Swedes might deliver next. Whatever path they choose, more people need to start paying attention.
Potential death metal album of the year. And please, someone get these guys on the bill at a joint like Roadburn 2013 -- I have a feeling Necrovation would kill from the stage.
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